Detachment commander no fan of photo enforcement

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A discussion on cameras, of various sorts, arose during the RCMP’s delegation to the policies and priorities committee on Dec. 21, with the detachment commander voicing his ambivalence toward photo traffic enforcement.

Coun. Mary Anne Overwater asked Staff Sgt. Joe Sangster if Olds RCMP has considered introducing photo enforcement.

“I’m not a fan of it because I take it as a money grab. I like the motorist to see a police (officer). I like the interaction because there could be some reason why an individual is doing what they’re doing,” Sangster said.

“Worst case scenario, they could be rushing to the hospital. It could just be a bad day. I like that one-on-one with the individual. I used to work for the City of Calgary and they have photo radar. And they fill their coffers every month (but) nothing seems to change.”

In October, committee hosted a delegation from Global Traffic Group Ltd. to learn about its photo enforcement program.

The commander added police have been effective at curbing violations.

“Here, we did a lot of enforcement this year. We wrote over 1,800 tickets this year. And that’s more than this town has ever seen, I think. But as a result, our traffic collisions have gone down. Not by a huge amount but we’ve had no fatalities this year in the Town of Olds,î he said.

One of the items on council’s 2016 capital budget is a $7,800 in-car camera for the community peace officer.

Mayor Judy Dahl asked if buying one would be worthwhile.

Yes, Sangster said, for many reasons. Regarding enforcement, the Crown demands video evidence. Five of six RCMP vehicles have a camera and that footage is provided in court.

But they are also useful for mutual accountability on the part of officers and citizens. Other detachments are experimenting with body cameras, said Cpl. Shawn Morgan.

“It would be nice for him to have that video to show if complaints come forward, that Joe (Reid)’s not the problem. The other individual is the problem,” Sangster said.

“Because every call I’ve been assisting Joe, he’s been professional, he’s been amazing. He needs that piece of equipment to assist with his job.”

jho@olds.greatwest.ca

“I like the interaction because there could be some reason why an individual is doing what they’re doing.” STAFF SGT. JOE SANGSTER

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